Poking Fun: Political Puns and Social Satire in the Genre Paintings of William Sidney Mount

A lecture by Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan Presented by King Manor Museum in partnership with the Political Science Discipline at York College
When Mar 27, 2014
from 12:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Where AC-4D01
Contact Name
Contact Phone 718-206-0545 x13
Attendees Free, reservations recommended
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Elizabeth Kahn Kaplan is an educator, writer, and lecturer about art, artists, and American history to both adult and school-age audiences. Formerly the Director of Education with the Three Village Historical Society in Setauket, NY, Mrs. Kaplan curated their exhibit, Spies! How A Group of Long Island Patriots Helped General Washington Win the Revolution. She is a co-editor of the Society's publication, William Sidney Mount: Family, Friends and Ideas, about the world-renowned 19th century American genre artist.

Nineteenth century relations between the sexes, Abolitionist preaching, political chicanery, all were grist for visual puns incorporated into seemingly simple scenes of country life on Long Island. Mount's neighbors and upwardly mobile city patrons readily "got" his subtle - and not so subtle - jokes, sometimes with a subtext about the political role of freed slaves. Presidential campaigns in the late 1830s and early 1840s had deteriorated into manipulation of carefully chosen symbols, and Mount exploited these in his art. Mount's "insider" jokes, double entendres, puns, and political humor will motivate discussion about the political and social themes of Mount's day. What is represented by the boy tickling a sleeping black man with a straw in Farmers Nooning, 1836? What does the trap represent in Catching Rabbits, 1839? Discovery of Mount's sharp wit adds another dimension to appreciation of his art.

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